Friday, March 6, 2009

Time Management -- the least talked about sin

Lust, gossip, envy, anger... All of us admit we do these things, and we confess these things to each other, we pray about them...but what about time management? This seems like more of a "non-spiritual" issue. It's something you go to seminars about or learn during job training. Yet I'm being more convicted that it is a real, chronic sin that is destroying many in our generation, soaked as we are in a distraction-filled world. I especially think it is endemic in young guys. It's been a destructive force in my life.

Does this sound familiar? Sleep in, go to class only when there's a quiz, spend the day playing computer games, checking your fantasy team, and watching youtube. Then go hang out with your buddies. As deadlines get closer, pound dozens of coffees and redbulls and a few all-nighters. Afterwords, celebrate and then start the cycle all over again. I think this pattern starts somewhere in middle school and high school, gets hardened in college, and by the time you get your first job, is pretty hard to shake. Yes, it works...but there's something like a slow disintegration going on inside. You might not admit it, but you feel it.

Why do we do it? Is it just because we're lazy? Yes, but I think you have to go deeper than that. For me, there is a nagging fear of failure. I avoid the difficult tasks because I know as soon as I tackle it, I will feel frustrated. Frustrated because it's not easy, because I feel incompetent. So I avoid. I turn to things that are easy, that are controllable, where I feel competent. Soon I begin to see that this is not just why I'm's also why I avoid confrontation with people and why I avoid deep relationships.

Titus 2:11-12 says that "the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age." The Grace of God trains us. The NIV says that Grace teaches us to say "no." What does this mean? It means that self-control doesn't come from mustering up enough will-power and guilt to change ourselves. It means that God breaking through into our reality and saving us from ourselves is the only way we will ever change. It's the reality of the fact that Christ did the hardest task of all, facing and taking all our evil so that we could be free, that can break through our fears. Remembering who we are in Christ slowly weans off our fear of failure. Why? Because even if I fail, I know that my identity doesn't rest in my accomplishments. It rests in being a child of God, won for me by the Redeemer. It frees me to try the hardest things, and it frees me to fail and not be destroyed.

This deeper battle must first be fought. The grace of God is our power and strength in the battle. What does this look like for you? I don't know. But for me, I've seen that accountability with others and identifying the big time-wasters in your life -- the things you turn to avoid the difficult things, are part of the battle. One thing for me is being very cognizant of how I partake of the Internet, e-mail, TV, TV on the internet... Our generation just turns on the computer, flicks on the tube, and lets it wash over us, basically until we're bored. For me, these are the first places I go to when I'm avoiding something. One of my goals is to check email only twice during the day, and do all my "recreational internet" in the evening. My friend's goal is to be on the internet no more than one hour per day. That's harder than it sounds...but do we really need to be on the internet for four hours every day? Whatever it looks like for you, I pray that the reality of grace will break through into our lives and train us into freedom.